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04 February 2006


Nelson Guda

On the risk of roads:

I believe that there are a number of papers that have documented a loss of large mammals in areas closer to human populations, but the number of papers that directly link the issue to roads is more limited.

In Conservation Biology v14, n6, there was a nice special section on "Habitat Disturbance and Tropical Rainforest Mammals". One of these articles by David Wilkie ("Roads, Development, and Conservation in the Congo Basin"), provides a nice discussion of this issue in Africa.

There is a very recent ConBio article about this very topic by Laurance ("Impacts of Roads and Hunting on Central African Rainforest Mammals", Volume 20 Page 1251 - August 2006).

The issue of hunting is also just one effect of roads on conservation issues. There is a big difference between a road that is simply proximate and a road that cuts between habitat patches. There have been many, many studies on the latter issue. A very short list of potential effects that can easily be found in the literature might be:

1) fauna that are unwilling to cross road clearings such as understory tropical birds (Laurance)

2) fauna that are killed in high proportion when crossing between breeding and non-breeding territory (very large literature on amphibian and turtle mortalities)

3) the effect of roads on stream quality (very large literature on the effect of logging roads on salmon habitat)

4) effect of roads on population gene flow (there was a very recent quantitative article on this topic in either Science or Nature)


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